The text is as follows:
I have to admit when I first heard about this project quite a few months ago I thought the whole premise was a bit crazy. It was something sensational about addressing men and sleeping in a tent that had been overblown in the media. I also hold very strong feelings about evangelical theology, complementarianism (gender roles) and a woman’s calling for ministry. I will admit that before reading the book I had some preconceived notions about the whole premise, so I sympathize with readers who might feel the same way. But the idea intrigued me. So I gave it a chance and I found myself alternately laughing, shedding a few tears, and really critically thinking about the views that I hold and why I hold them. I learned a lot from this book and I highly recommend it.
As a woman preparing for ordination in a mainline Protestant denomination I am forever confronting stereotypes of what women should and should not be doing in the church. I know that I am blessed to be able to follow my call and feel deeply for my sisters in Christ whose voices are silenced in public ministry because of their gender. The quote that sticks with me from this book pertains to calling.
Rachel Held Evans writes, “A calling, on the other hand, when rooted deep in the soil of one’s soul, transcends roles…My calling is to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself…If love was Jesus’ definition of ‘biblical,’ then perhaps it should be mine.” (295)
Being a Christian woman is NOT about following a certain set of behaviors, advocating an ideal that does not exist, and living up to the expectations of others. It is about love.
If you are looking for a book that prescribes, reinforces, or advocates some ideal of biblical womanhood or rigid gender roles, you will be disappointed. This is not a how-to book. If you are looking for a book that will challenge, inspire, and upend some of your assumptions of “biblical womanhood,” you will love this book. Spoiler alert: there is no such thing as “Biblical Womanhood.” Held Evans skillfully combines candid reflections on her project with journal entries from her husband Dan, as well as profiles of female characters in scripture, interspersed with the most intriguing biblical commentary that I have read to date (and as a seminarian, I read a lot of commentary). Rachel Held Evans manages to critically examine biblical texts while still honoring the spectrum of women’s experience and we all come away better for her “experiment” in living biblically.